There weren’t quite as many awful contracts handed out this summer as there were in the summer of 2016, which will go down in history as one of the wildest offseasons in NBA history thanks to the massive cap spike. However, some teams—as they always seem to do—still managed to find a way to throw some bad contracts around in free agency, and here are the worst deals that stood out.
Pau Gasol – C, San Antonio Spurs
Contract: Three years, $48 million (partially guaranteed in the third year)
As detailed here, it was a huge overpay by the Spurs to re-sign Gasol at his current contract. While the deal won’t affect them at all for the upcoming season, it could have an impact next summer, where Gasol’s contract might eat up a significant amount of the cap space the Spurs will look to have in free agency.
There’s a good chance San Antonio still find a way to resolve the situation, but they could’ve saved themselves the trouble by not handing Gasol such a bad deal in the first place.
Cristiano Felicio – C, Chicago Bulls
Contract: Four years, $32 million
Felicio has shown some flashes of promise over the last two years, but did he really show enough to secure such a generous contract from the rebuilding Bulls so early during free agency?
After all, Felicio was a restricted free agent, and given how bearish the market has been for non-star big men this offseason, he likely wasn’t getting an offer sheet anywhere close to the deal the Bulls gave him. But of course, after the disastrous Jimmy Butler trade, no one should really be that surprised that GarPax made a highly questionable deal.
Kyle Korver – G, Cleveland Cavaliers
Contract: Three years, $22 million (partially guaranteed in the third year)
The Cavs have had a horrific offseason to date for multiple reasons (failed trades, questionable signings, Kyrie’s trade request), and their re-signing of Kyle Korver to his deal didn't help. The Cavs’ one goal this offseason was to build the best team to face the Warriors, and despite Korver’s terrific shooting, he doesn’t fit the bill.
At 37, he’s too much of a defensive liability to play significant minutes, especially against Golden State. His deal will also add to the Cleveland's massive luxury tax payments for next season, making the decision to retain him at that number all the more confusing.
James Johnson – F, Miami Heat
Contract: Four years, $60 million (team option in the fourth year)
The Heat’s reaction to missing out on the marquee free agents once again was a curious one. They retained their key free agents—Johnson and Dion Waiters—to long-term deals and also handed a four-year contract to Kelly Olynyk. The decision to give Johnson three guaranteed years at an average of $15 million per year is easily the worst of the three.
Johnson is already 30 years old with no track record of the production he displayed last season. They paid over the odds to keep him and locked themselves into big money instead of trying to find another reclamation project at a fraction of the price. Their flexibility in free agency over the next few years will now be even more limited as a result, as will their chances of landing that next superstar.
Ron Baker – G, New York Knicks
Contract: Two years, $8.9 million (player option in the second year)
Exactly whom did the Knicks think they were bidding against for Baker’s services? While the Wichita State product was a welcome surprise as a rookie last season, he didn’t do anything special to justify such a generous deal, one that will see him earn twice as much as Derrick Rose next season. And, he's got a player option in the second year, which he'd be crazy not to opt into.
And as flawed as Rose is as a player, he’s still a much better NBA asset than Baker. Baker is a third point guard at best, and New York—in classic Knicks fashion—paid way too much for one.
Blake Griffin – F, Los Angeles Clippers
Contract: Five years, $173 million
In the Clippers’ defense, their hands were tied after Chris Paul made it known that he wanted out of LA. They wanted to remain competitive, and that meant keeping Griffin, who was only going to stay for the max.
But still, committing five full years to an injury-prone big man is a very risky proposition. If he suffers a few more injuries and an Amare Stoudemire-like decline in the next few years—which is a real possibility—Griffin's contract will be a massively expensive millstone on the Clippers’ cap.
Tim Hardaway Jr. – G, New York Knicks
Contract: Four years, $71 million (player option in the fourth year)
You know you overpaid for someone when even the player himself is shocked by how much you’ve offered. Hardaway made some good improvements last season, but his contract was still way too inflated given the current market for shooting guards.
And as if the overpay wasn’t enough, the fact that the Knicks traded THJ away just a couple years ago to start a chain of events that culminated in them offering him a ludicrous deal takes this to a whole other level of Knicks incompetence.
Which other free agent signings do you think are trash? Share them in the comments below!